Sometimes, we feel the urge to express an important idea, feeling, or fact to someone, but it’s late at night. We might feel that a call would be too intrusive, so we might feel tempted to send a text.
After all, a message doesn’t mean the person has to answer right away, right? Is it really rude to message late at night?
The short answer: In most cases, it is certainly rude. People are more alert when they receive messages at night and even though you think they don’t have to read them; a notification is enough to get them out of their well-deserved recreation.
The classic phone etiquette
We can compare messaging with calling. For many, it is an unspoken rule that phone calls are okay from 8 am to 8 pm, with some people extending that time range to 9 or 10 pm; unless it is an extremely urgent phone call.
And it is not without reason: in the beginnings of telephonic communications, operators were human, and at some point, they had to stop performing connections to sleep. Later, even with the appearance of automated operators, the rule was still valid due to people not wanting their sleep to be disturbed.
Messages are no different in this sense; even more so, we might feel more compelled to check a phone notification alert than to answer a call.
No news during the night is good news
After a long day, it is normal to feel the need to disconnect. This is why most people won’t answer a phone call after a certain time of the night. However, some people decide to leave their phones on and check them eventually during the night in case something important comes up.
And that’s how your message, as innocent as it may be, will come across at first: as an emergency. It might only take the message notification late in the night to worry the receptor; it might even trigger an episode of anxiety, worsening the quality of sleep (if not interrupting it completely). For health reasons, it’s very polite to avoid sending messages late at night (unless you know well the person).
Let’s now see some scenarios where messages late at night are common: work situations and relationships.
When talking to someone from work
It’s 11 pm and you (the boss) come up with a key step for your team to follow on a current project. So, you decide to send a message to all team members with your sudden idea in it.
All in all, it’s best to express ideas on the spot so they don’t get lost, right? Wrong!
Messages sent outside of office hours will distort the corporate culture in the business, which results in a decrease in creativity, innovation, respect, and true productivity.
If this is a common behavior either for you or from the people in your office, you’re being rude by denying yourself and others the opportunity to get some distance from work. This distance is critical to renewing the perspective you need as a leader or team member.
First and foremost, when the boss is working, the rest of the team feels like they should be working as well. Secondly, it might attract unwanted attention and/or the wrong perception from your team.
Being connected to the office during your off-hours in times of heavy workload is a hallmark of a highly productive person. But never disconnecting is a sign of a workaholic. And there’s a big difference.
If the boss is messaging late at night or on weekends, most employees think that an early morning response is also necessary, or that they’ll impress the boss if they respond right away.
Even if only a couple of your employees share this belief, it could spread to your entire team; all it takes is one mention in a meeting, such as, “when we exchanged messages last night”, for many to catch on. After all, everyone is looking for an edge to catapult their career.
Always being “connected” affects the bottom line. When employees are constantly monitoring their phone after leaving the office – either for fear of missing something the boss sent or because they are addicted to their cell phones – they are missing out on essential downtime that the brain needs.
Studies have shown that to perform our work better, downtime is required. That time generates new ideas and fresh perspectives. But your employees will never be able to disconnect while they’re checking their smartphones every few minutes to see if the boss sent them something.
Creativity, inspiration, and motivation are your competitive advantages, but they are also non-renewable resources that need to be recharged. True business leaders can help keep unhealthy assumptions about messaging and other communications from taking root in the company.
As a boss, be clear about your expectations for the use of messaging and other communication tools and establish policies to support a healthy culture that recognizes and values task concentration, focus, and downtime.
The same counts of course for employees. An acceptable exception is mailing with an actual emergency background such as writing your professor at night if you can’t make it to an exam due to illness.
When talking to a significant other
You feel like saying everything you feel and think, but it’s late and you’re afraid it’s not an appropriate time to talk to that person.
Many nights you stay with your cell phone in your hands, with the open chat of that person who makes you feel butterflies in your belly, hesitating to send a message or getting stuck with the words in a blank message. You feel like saying everything you feel and think, but it’s late and you’re afraid it’s not an appropriate time to talk to that person.
The urge to send that message comes every time you go to bed and every time you are about to send it; something stops you from sending the lines you have already written. You are right.
Nighttime is not a good time if you want to be a sincere person, because, truth be told, it’s not a good time for you. This is not because you find yourself more vulnerable, but because at night human beings are usually more liars and in reality, they don’t say what they truly feel.
You should think twice and if you want to say something important, do it in the daylight so that you are more relaxed and your mind is not pressured.
This does not mean that you do not talk to him/her, but that you do it in a state in which you are conscious and focused on what you are going to say and you have the right answers to what he/she will answer you.
1. The next day you will not be able to sustain what you said.
Maybe it’s very easy to feel like saying a lot of things at night that you wouldn’t dare to say in the sunlight. And if you do, the next day when you recount everything you said the night before, you won’t be able to stand by every word and might even wonder what you were thinking when you said it all.
2. Because you’re not sincere, only loneliness talks
Studies have proven that the self-control not to tell lies can decrease as the day goes by, so, in the evenings you become a less sincere person compared to the mornings.
So it is not very safe for you to talk at night because you may say many things that you don’t feel, think and believe.
3. Some nights you are drunk
Alcohol is not a reason for you to talk to the person you like, it only gives you the courage to do it and consequently to say some things that are not at all congruent. You don’t find yourself with your 5 senses at 100 and you will only do something you can be ashamed of the next day.
4. What you say is rash
You don’t measure the degree of your words and it might not be a good time for you to have revealed them. The night made you have a very high degree of thoughts, different from what you have in the morning.
It’s better to clear your mind and decide the next day if what you were thinking the night before is still persistent and what you feel.
5. The next day you will regret it
The next day, after you said all that, you will have a huge feeling of regret. You’ll wish that the whole conversation never happened and even feel ashamed. Maybe communication is no longer the same and what little contact you had goes down the drain.
6. You don’t say things the way you had planned
You die of nerves and fail to say what you wanted to communicate. In the end, everything will go wrong and you will regret it because you feel that everything was a mess that you didn’t manage to control.
7. There is no personal contact and everything can be misinterpreted.
There is nothing like saying things face to face and with your eyes on the other person. It’s a way to be sincere, transparent, confident, and fearless. Text messages are often confusing, and sometimes they are misinterpreted and do not let you express yourself as you want to.
8. It’s too late and he/she will probably leave you in the dark
The hour can be very imprudent and maybe he already wants to rest or is resting. This will cause him not to answer you and leave you in the dark, or he may tell you that it’s not the time to talk and you’ll be left with the words stuck in your heart.
Sophie Hammond is a journalist, psychologist, and freelance speechwriter for people in politics and business. She lives on the edge of the Rocky Mountains with her dog and a lifetime supply of books. When she’s not writing, she can be found wandering through nature or journaling at a coffee shop.